The officer pulled you over for speeding. He ran a check of your license and issued the ticket. But the officer asked you to not to leave quite yet. You were forced to wait while the officer ran some checks or maybe brought in a narcotics dog. You were then arrested for an offense other than the original speeding ticket.

Can they do that? What are the limits of a police stop?

An officer may stop you for one reason and investigate you for another as long as he or she does not unduly prolong the stop. Authority for the stop ends when the tasks tied to it should have reasonably been completed. This can include ordinary inquiries such as checking for outstanding warrants. The officer can check on items unrelated to the stop. But to justify prolonging the stop even for a few minutes beyond the time needed to address the initial violation, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion of wrong doing.

In People v. Cassino, the defendant was driving a rental car when he was stopped for speeding. The officer did not suspect the car was stolen but contacted Hertz and discovered that defendant was not the authorized driver. After a search of the car, defendant was arrested on drug possession charges.

The court held that the evidence from the search should be suppressed in that the officer lacked the reasonable suspicion necessary to prolong the stop. The officer had determined in less than a minute that the vehicle was a rental, that it was not reported stolen, that the defendant’s driver’s license was valid, and that there were no outstanding warrants. Thus, the additional 25 minutes spent checking with Hertz was not justified.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Was the stop of your car and resulting search proper? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from the stop. In certain cases, this could result in the dismissal of your case.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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Matt Keenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 24 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU, Illinois State Bar Association.